Will the UK experience a double-dip recession in 2021? Almost certainly

Harold Wilson was prime minister and Margaret Thatcher the newly elected leader of the opposition. Lord’s hosted the first cricket world cup final, David Bowie released Young Americans and inflation reached a post-war high of more than 25%. That was Britain in 1975, the last time the economy endured a double-dip recession.

Until now, in all likelihood. When the Office for National Statistics releases growth figures for November next Friday the data is expected to show UK on course to contract in the final three months of 2020. An economy that was already losing momentum in the early autumn was further hampered by the four-week lockdown in England that ended in early December.

Lockdown 3 – which came into force earlier this week – guarantees that the economy will beweaker still in the first three months of 2021, even if the government’s vaccination programme goes as planned and restrictions can be gradually eased from mid-February onwards.

Two successive quarters of falling gross domestic product (GDP) are needed to qualify for a recession and a double-dip involves two recessions, separated by a small gap: something now highly probable, but not inevitable.


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